Iliso Labantu provides training and opportunities for individuals to use photography as a way of documenting their lives and to be able to make sustainable careers for themselves as photographers.
Who we are
Iliso Labantu is a collective of photographers who live and work in the townships around Cape Town. We collaborate and work independently. We meet to critique our work with other professional photographers. We exhibit our work in the galleries and museums throughout Cape Town and internationally. We work on commission and we license our work for publication. Some of us have been photographing for years, others are novices.
Flash photo weekends
Several times a year, we descend on a particular neighbourhood and, for 48 hours, we fan out with our digital cameras, documenting daily life there. We scope out a work site before-hand and we return there throughout the weekend to download and edit our work, and to recharge our batteries and ourselves. On Sunday mornings, we hang selected images in well-trafficked areas of the community. We have strung up photographs in taxi ranks, on street corners, in community centers, on the sides of houses and shipping containers. Word of mouth goes out and the community comes in droves. We also put out the call to the newspapers and friends from Cape Town and we end up with a pretty mixed crowd - something that doesn't happen often in the townships.
A little South African background
South Africa is one of the most economically disparate countries in the world, and Cape Town is no exception. It is one of the most beautiful, and for some, luxurious cities in the world. It is also home to nearly two million people who living in informal and formal settlements where clean water, electricity and safety are hard to come by. Twenty years after the end of apartheid only a small percentage of White South Africans have ever visited a township. It is rare to see images of the townships made by the people who live there. We are changing that.
Iliso Labantu was founded by photographer Alistair Berg (UK and South Africa) and Sue Jaye Johnson (USA). Many people have been instrumental in the growth or the organization including: Jonathan Wang, David Goldblatt, Warren Nelson, Susan Meiselas, Whitney Johnson, Czerina Patel and Amy Yenkin and the Open Society Foundation